News - January 27, 2011

Hasty Lunch Break


China has an old saying about the three meals in a day: at breakfast eat until full, at lunch eat well, and at dinner eat just a little. This is also regarded as a way of adhering to the heart of Chinese culture: the philosophy of Yin and Yang.

A typical Chinese lunch break means a well prepared, fresh, warm lunch followed by a half-hour nap at home. People keep this in mind and try to stick to it. When I started living abroad, I compromised by heating food which I prepared the night before and taking a 10 minute catnap in my office chair.
But because of an accident two months ago, the fire brigade confiscated the microwave oven from our office kitchen. As a result, I had to give up my hot meal and pay attention to what Dutch people eat for lunch, and try to survive on it. Most Dutch people take a packed lunch to work, typically consisting of a home-made sandwich with brown bread and cheese or ham, a piece of fruit, a glass of cold milk or an instant cup-a-soup. It looks quite like another breakfast which is easy to prepare, easy to package and easy to finish in a few minutes. I truly believe that Dutch people spend the least time on lunch compared with other nations. I think that just because of this less extensive lunch menu, people do not feel sleepy and go back to work immediately. And obviously the office canteen is not the only place to enjoy their lunch. There are many options for this bread-and-cheese time: in the office, on the train, bus or car, in the park, on the grass, or under the summer sun.
If you ask me if I am suffering from this typical Dutch lunch break, the answer is no. Lunch time now, everyone, eet smakelijk! Yanyan Sun, PhD-student Animal Breeding & Genetics
Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to and earn fifty euro and Dutch candy.